Where would authors be without screwed-up childhoods? They’re usually to blame for serial killers or long-buried secrets as well as the old favourites… justice and revenge.
And I must admit two-thirds of the books I read involve some sort of childhood incident which impacts on lives many many years after it’s occurred.
Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot is one such book.
by Laura Elliot
Published by Bookouture
on March 31st 2016
Beth ran away from her family when she was a teenager. She left behind a terrible evil that took her innocence. She also left behind her sister, Sara.
When Beth returns home, she is shocked to discover her terrible secret is not just hers alone…she shares it with Sara. Under the shadow of a remote headland, the sisters make an oath they promise never to break.
Eva’s birth is a mystery that remains unsolved. Years later with her marriage in ruins, and her future uncertain, she realizes that to move forward with her life, she must first understand her past.
But while Eva is drawing closer to the truth about her roots, Beth and Sara’s lives are falling apart, crushed under the weight of the secret they carry. They must confront the past and face the darkness once more.
But this time, their story will be heard.
This book opens with a scene involving Sara, but it’s really Beth’s story. And I loved young Beth. We quickly learn she’s afraid of the monsters in her cupboard which only come out at night and so it’s not surprising that her monsters are far more real than her parents believe.
Abused from a young age Beth and maligned by her own mother, Beth’s devastated when her father leaves the family. She acts out against her abuser but is understandably incapable of sharing her secret… fearful she won’t be believed.
She leaves home as soon as possible – only regretting leaving her sister, who – at least – seems safe from abuse and under the watchful eye of her adoring mother.
Beth finds a new family with her father, his partner Connie and her children. She fits into their world and attempts to put her past behind her.
She’s dragged back however and unhappy that Sara’s angry at her departure and betrayal of the family. And yet still… Beth is unable to share the secret which drove her away.
I enjoyed this part of the novel. It was a bit saga-like in a fabulously Irish way and I loved seeing our underdog Beth rising in the ranks in the clothing factory and stunning those around her with her street smarts and fresh ideas.
Things then became a bit too melodramatic for me however and we jumped forward 20+ years when the Beth we knew and loved had somehow disappeared.
Eva – a newly introduced character on the periphery of Beth’s world – became the stronger character and I was drawn into her story.
Perhaps Ireland is a small place but there were a lot of coincidences and connections as the stars and moon aligned and everything came to a head.
I missed (the old) Beth in the second half of the story. She continued to grapple with her past but slowly and steadily became more empowered and keen to take revenge on those who wronged her. I’m not quite sure why but those elements of the plot didn’t quite work for me.
However, I (too) was keen for justice and easily drawn into the unfolding events. I understand this was based on a short story so wonder where the additional material was added. Perhaps that explains why I struggled a little when the storyline seemed to lose its way.
At its heart this book is about family and relationships and about secrets and trust. I think a little of that was diluted via the many threads, but it’s still what I most enjoyed.
Sleep Sister by Laura Elliot was published by Bookouture in late March 2016.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.